Wheelchair Wednesday comes to a close

2016-09-14 06:00
Mr South Africa Armand du Plessis spent four hours in a wheelchair.  Photo: werner hills

Mr South Africa Armand du Plessis spent four hours in a wheelchair. Photo: werner hills

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Mr South Africa Armand du Plessis and Wayne Hart of Algoa FM fame were suddenly way out of their comfort zone.

The two popular personalities cut a nervous picture waiting to be issued with their final instructions before setting out on their four-hour stint in a wheelchair.

The reason for this is the Spar Wheelchair Wednesday challenge. The project slogan says it all: “Spend 4 hours in a wheelchair and change a life.”

A total of 260 corporate high fliers and celebrities have, over the past five weeks, experienced the challenges related to making use of a wheelchair to get around. They pay an entrance fee and get to hand the wheelchair that they use during the four- hour challenge, over to a needy beneficiary.

The beneficiaries are carefully screened by the APD Nelson Mandela Bay Social Work Team to ensure that they fulfil the necessary criteria required, both physical and financial.

Spar Wheelchair Wednesday runs for five weeks of every year and is now in its final week. On Tuesday, September 20, 130 needy beneficiaries will receive their brand new wheelchairs. The handover ceremony takes place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“We are proud to announce that during the five years of Spar Wheelchair Wednesday’s existence, we have handed over 500 wheelchairs to Nelson Mandela Bay residents. We consider this to be life-changing and we salute business Nelson Mandela Bay for their ongoing support,” said director of APD Nelson Mandela Bay, Brian Bezuidenhout.

“This project, supported by Spar Eastern Cape, is unique to South Africa and by far the biggest NGO wheelchair donation drive in the country. The awareness regarding the need for universal accessibility in our city has grown phenomenally recently and we welcome the public announcement from our local tourism authorities to make this a priority.”

The project serves four important purposes:

  • Awareness: The four hours in the wheelchair is an unforgettable experience that changes mindsets forever. Over five years some 1000 participants of Spar Wheelchair Wednesday have been exposed to wheelchair related matters.
  • Community Support: The project has resulted in 500 wheelchairs being donated to needy people over the last 5 years.
  • Improving Accessibility: The vast improvements brought about in many local structures and the mindfulness of our local citizens to simple matters, like the importance of reserving disabled parking bays for mobility impaired people is encouraging.
  • Fund raising: APD Nelson Mandela Bay provides job creation opportunities for some 100 people with disabilities at their workshops in Paterson Road, North End.

With no assistance from local or national government and with running costs in access of R500 000 per month, they need to reach out to business and individuals to help keep the doors open.

“We are truly proud to be associated with such an amazing project. As a corporate, we don’t support this initiative to tick a box. We support Wheelchair Wednesday and APD Nelson Mandela Bay because we care, and we can see the difference that it makes in the lives of needy people within the region that Spar Eastern Cape serves,” said Roseanne Shadrach, Sponsorship Controller, Spar Eastern Cape.

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